GT Academy 2015 European Winner Announced
France’s Roman Sazarin took the top honors at the GT Academy 2015 European Race Camp, which ended on October 12 (local time) at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Sazarin, who hails from Meyzieu, France, a suburb of Lyon, emerged out of a group of 56 other drivers from 11 different European countries to take the top prize. He performed admirably on each day of the race camp, and was thus an obvious pick for French team mentor and NISMO LMP1 driver Olivier Pla to advance to the finals. The final day of the competition saw each contestant battle in a one-make (Nissan 370Z) 6-lap race, where Sazarin proved quickest of them all, and even set fastest lap on his way to victory.
“I’m really thrilled. I knew I had to get a good start because it’s difficult to overtake. After I got past Ben in the first corner I just had to keep cool and build a gap. I saw the others fighting behind me, and it made it easier for me to get away. This is a huge achievement and will completely change my life. I’m lucky enough to now have a chance to live my dream, and I can’t wait to get started!” Sazarin said.
The Race Camp in Abu Dhabi provided the contestants a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live the lifestyle of a race driver, which, as they all found out, wasn’t all glitz and glamor. With the ambient temperature reaching 40 degrees C at times, the contestants battled the heat and each other to realize their dream of becoming a real-life race driver. The Viceroy Hotel, located right next to the home of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, served as their home during the competition, except for one night when they were required to spend the night in the desert in tents. The Race Camp competition included a GT-R racecar gymkhana on a beautiful suspension bridge, races in Nissan 370Zs along the circuit and on drag strips, and an off-road contest through the sand dunes buggies.
The GT Academy serves as a way for Nissan and PlayStation to find talented young people with the potential and will to be professional racecar drivers. For this round in Abu Dhabi, Sazarin was chosen to be that special person. He will now join GT Academy's heralded Driver Development Program, whose sole mission is to turn gamers into NISMO athletes and take their talents onto the world stage.
Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing's Chief Technical Officer said after the final competition:
"I was very impressed with that race, considering that the guys haven’t raced before. There was no contact at all. Once they were away it was a very tight race. Romain did well to open up a gap and utilize the space while the cars behind slowed each other down. He controlled the gap very well, which I enjoyed. It has been a fascinating experience to come here and see GT Academy in action. I can see that this program will become an increasingly important route into motorsports for young people to chase their dream, as the costs of the traditional karting and Formula-racing route continue to escalate. It’s a great shame that there can only be one winner."